When I turned pro two years ago, at 46, I had an eye on the
Senior tour, which I'll be eligible for in June 1998. Little did
I know I would wind up spending two years on the regular Tour
competing against guys young enough to be my kids.
I'd had a long and successful career as an amateur, winning five
events, including the Porter Cup and the Cardinal Amateur, in
1992. I also represented the U.S. in the World Team Amateur
three times as well as on three Walker Cup teams. Still, I knew
the pro game was a different animal and that if I was to be
competitive on the Senior tour, I would need to improve my game
on the Nike tour. But when I got out there, in 1995, I finished
second in winnings and earned the right to play with the big
boys in '96. I did O.K., ending up 140th on the money list last
year, and although I lost my Tour card, I got it back for 1997
by being co-medalist at Q school last December.
Most of the places we play, reporters treat me as a novelty.
They seem especially interested in my primary source of income
before I joined the Tour (I own a driving range in LaGrange,
Ga., my hometown) and my form (I was a hockey player growing up
in Massachusetts, and my swing has a little slap shot in it).
And then there are the travel stories. Last year I got lost half
a dozen times going from the airport to the hotel or golf
course--the tournaments never send directions. I guess they
assume you've been there before.
But now that I'm out here, I want to prove that I'm more than
just an interesting story. I want to prove that I belong. Yes, I
picked an odd time to set that sort of goal--how many athletes
in their late 40s feel there's still a lot left to accomplish?
And as you might have guessed, I'm not as long as most of the
guys out here (I give up 70 yards to Tiger Woods off the tee).
But I'm straighter, and outside of the top tier of great
golfers, I know I can play with them. For example, I had a
better stroke average than 40 of the guys ahead of me on the '96
May 11, 1997
More important, if I can hang in there week after week with the
best golfers in the world--and I think I can--I'll be one of
those rare individuals who can't wait to turn 50, even if it
means getting calls from the AARP.
Doyle's tie for 10th in the '96 Nelson is his best finish on Tour.